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This week: What do You Think?

July 5, 2013 – 11:31 am12 Comments

kevin-rudd2From the editor:

Alt Neu Labor:

. Rudd’s back and his Zionist credentials are questioned in some quarters. With this in mind does the tenor of Bob Carr’s piece in The Australian (and on his blog) on July 3 bode ill for Australia/Israel relations?

. Was ECAJ’s Danny Lamm right in strongly and publicly condemning Carr’s piece  or is a more conciliatory approach preferable?

. What of MP, Melissa Parke’s, appointment as Minister for International Development? Should this speech she gave in parliament give us pause?

. Were you surprised by the venomous response to Ed Husic’s swearing on the Koran? Do you feel Australia is has a problem with racism?

. Looking at events this week through a Jewish lens, Rabbi Ralph Genende writes on Caulfield Hebrew Congregation’s Facebook page about the pain and necessity of cultural change.

editor’s note: any racist comments will be deleted and their authors suspended. Please follow our new comments guidelines.

Happy Rabbis, Angry Rabbis:

. What do you make of the $60,000 government grant to the RCV (Rabbinical Council of Victoria) to facilitate their pastoral activities?

. What do you think about the NSW Rabbinate’s fury expressed in Thursday’s AJN (letters to the editor section) in response to an AJN editorial criticising the Rabbinate for failing to condemn properly Rabbi Baruch Dov Lesches’s bizarre comments on child sexual abuse?

 Exploitation or Legitimate Grist for the Museum Mill?

Amy Winehouse’s possessions go on display at the London Jewish Museum. Is this ghoulish or is there cultural value in the exhibition?

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  • ittayf says:

    I thought Rabbi Genende’s words in relation to a number of events that happened this week were quite perceptive.

    “There was nothing unwitting in the words that were used against Ed Husic, as he was sworn in as Australia’s first Muslim frontbencher on Monday. He was subjected to a plethora of online abuse for using a Koran for this purpose. “Shame, shame, shame” posted one user; another said she was “disgusted and embarassed” for the Australian people. Someone else opined: “It undermines our culture” and paves the way for Sharia Law. I also felt shame and embarassment for the Australian people; that we have so many bigoted and intolerant citizens amongst us. I was however heartened by MP (and CHC member) Josh Frydenberg’s quick response: “Criticism of Ed Husic for getting sworn in on the Koran is a disgrace – we live in a democracy where we respect freedom of religion”. Both Josh and MP Michael Danby were sworn in on a Tanach.

    It’s unsurprising that the attacks came online. The internet is a wide-open public space where all kinds of opinions can be expressed freely, often anonymously. A torrent of words pulses daily through its veins. It’s a wild west of fact and opinion, the desirable and the drivel, the meaningful and the mundane. It’s an exhilirating public square and a frightening forum; one which allows an equal spot for the humble and the hangman.

    Unchecked it can be extremely damaging, destroy reputations, undermine integrity and threaten the very basis of civil society. Policed too tightly it can stifle creativity, limit freedom and threaten the public right to information. “

  • TheSadducee says:

    Did anyone actually attack Husic for being Bosnian? Or being Slavic?

    Perhaps it is better to understand this instance as a toxic and noxious mix of ignorance and xenophobia rather than racism per se?

    Does Australia have a problem with racism generally? I would say yes, but that it is far less than many other nations with significantly higher levels of racial homogeneity.

    I really think the problem lies with poor education, resulting ignorance and a lack of a distinct national cultural identity which reacts negatively to examples of distinct cultural identities (often associated with race).

  • Has the 11th commandment become “Thou shalt not fail to condemn properly”? Talk about a meaningless story about a story about a story! Has outing Rabbis who say stupid thing become a sport? Maybe more effort should be expended *uniting* the community on important issues like this than deepening fractures? (although I do want to see the *full* transcript of the phone call with Rabbi Lesches rather than the “worst of” that was published)

  • Yaron says:

    I would be interested if you could enlighten me as to what context could possibly make the words of Rabbi Lesches not offensive?

    And rabbis have jobs that expect a high level of morality. Holding them to that higher standard is not a witch hunt, but rather ensuring that the flag-bearers of our community’s morals actually live up to their job description.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Great that RCV got funding!!

  • letters in the age says:

    Did anyone ask the question of Frydenbergs bromance with Mr Husic ???

    Is M.P Husic the child of a conservative migrant with ethnocentric tendencies?

    That’s more interesting to me!

  • Paul Grunfeld - aka Otto Waldman says:

    Editor: Otto, your account has been suspended. Please do not write under pseudonyms.

  • Yaron – I didn’t suggest there was any context that made his comments not offensive. Only that we’ve been fed half a story.

    Agree that Rabbis ought to display a high level of morality. Just unfortunate that people like to make careers out of searching the world for any who don’t.

  • Yaron says:

    I agree that we should not be making snap decisions on a lack of information, but I would suggest that the comments made are enough information to condemn him. Your argument has its place. This is not it.

    And unfortunately we do not have to search very far for these stories. R’Manis Friedman was the only instance that I am aware of where there was not an intimate local connection.

    Communal rabbis are in a high profile, public profession that demands a high moral standing. Do not complain that it becomes public when they are found out.

  • Harold says:

    A short but interesting perspective on the Rudd ascension…


  • Ilana Leeds says:

    What I think? It has been said by those who know him better than I do. I have never warmed to Rudd. He was called a political psychopath with a gigantic ego by a former minister who worked with him. He has also resigned and will not stand for re-election. Too many big egos in parliament and I just wonder why the electorate is stupid enough to put them back there.
    Rudd stands a real possibility of winning the next election which just goes to show how stupid the electors really are to put the mangey old ALP dog back in to guard the chook pen and run the farm.
    Malcolm Turnbull would have made a far better prime minister. Abbott has some really hard press from several sectors in the Australian community. He does have far more substance than Rudd who runs an American style election campaign. I think he could be good but the big question is, will he be given the chance? However voters are fickle. If he wins, it will be a miracle and he will make a far better PM than Rudd ever could. I can see Rudd making a narrow win and then being stood down at the earliest opportunity.
    I know who I am voting for. It is not Krudd or the greens or the ALP. I want stability and commonsense, not backstabbing, egos out of control and leadership challenges to be the order of the day. The pollies are there to run the country and debate policies that involve us all and not just a minority. What a waste of time this gay marriage debate is. I would rather discuss important issues like the environment, economy and education and health. They are focusing on the wrong issues in parliament and have been for far too long.

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